Sometimes my heart aches for Scotland’s forever oscillating music scene. If there was ever a time for a fresh face to reshape the musical landscape and pioneer the country’s music scene, it would have to be now. While T in the Park, Scotland’s largest exhibition of music, is in disarray, along with the abiding closures of several music venues outside Glasgow, we still have the few showcases that accentuate the many emerging artists waiting to become the next Biffy Clyro or Paolo Nutini.
Scotland has always had at least one artist of the moment. It was Bay City Rollers in the 70s, Simple Minds and Deacon Blue in the 80s, Primal Scream in the 90s, Travis dominating the millennium, and a sea of artists including Franz Ferdinand and The Fratellis during the indie explosion in the Noughties. CHVRCHES are arguably the Scottish band creating waves presently – selling out some of the most appraised venues in the world of ample capacities.
I reminisce of the time in adolescence when all millennials were experimenting with different types of music because of a current trend. Everyone can recall the first moment they heard the starting chord of ‘Take Me Out’ by Franz Ferdinand, the same buzz you got two years later when hearing ‘Henrietta’ by The Fratellis. It would put teenagers onto Talking Heads, Pixies or Squeeze – because having a music scene with vital culturally shifting bands allowed fans to listen to a direct trail back to what influenced an indie frenzy.
While indie was everyone’s new favourite genre, Scotland was the country to watch. What was next? Paolo Nutini, The View, Twin Atlantic, We Were Promised Jetpacks and Biffy Clyro making it big, for a start. Some of these bands are still arguably relevant, but what does Scotland have to show for it now? One relatively successful pop band and a surfeit of acts trying to replicate a fleeting musical movement that was completely hackneyed. For now, the last moment where Scotland could effectively boast about what has successfully derived from its music scene is Young Fathers winning the Mercury Prize.
There is no doubt that there is a lot of eclecticism going around in Scotland, a disparity of genres entering the fray across the country. There is just a lack of substance overall to pinpoint a selection of bands that are going to ‘make it big’. While many would claim that Scotland’s current crop yield a cause for satisfaction, there is a void inside the circle for something new to be truly celebrated.
But then I glance at local publications such as Tenement TV or Ravechild, doing their absolute hardest to inject some life into a stagnant market and reassure every music fan out there that Scottish popular music is not in dire straits. WHITE, Catholic Action, The Van T’s – they are all promising bands. Besides, it could only take one of these acts and beyond a single moment to propel. Maybe things are not as lifeless as it seems in Scottish music, but I still feel eerily melancholic.